back to iraq?WikipediaIn an interview with the Washington Times earlier this week, Iraq’s ambassador to the U.S. had some complaints about President Obama’s lack of engagement on Iraq, especially compared to George W. Bush, who the ambassador says took “ownership” of the issue. (Shouldn’t be surprising; it was his war).  The Times reports:

“The administration has to have a better understanding of any adverse impact of any delay in provision of support to Iraq,” Ambassador Lukman Faily told The Washington Times in an interview Wednesday. “It cannot afford a whole town or province of Iraq falling to al Qaeda and becoming a safe haven. It’s against the U.S. strategic interest. It’s against the U.S. national security to do that.”

It may be against Nouri al-Maliki and his party’s interest if more Iraqi territory falls to Al Qaeda, it may even be against Syrian national security interests, given the role of Al Qaeda-linked fighters in the rebellion there. But in regards to U.S. national security, it’s far more more plausible that U.S. military intervention in Iraq would work against U.S. interests, not for them. The last American intervention in Iraq, after all, helped bring Al Qaeda into the country in the first place.

The Times hits on how al-Maliki’s government helped foment the problem it’s now facing:

Human rights groups have accused the al-Maliki government of strategically and politically alienating Iraq’s Sunnis. Some leading foreign policy analysts in Washington have gone so far as to suggest that the government’s posture has prompted residents in Sunni-dominated areas to tolerate the presence of al Qaeda-linked groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which seized control of Fallujah last week.

“The resurgence of al Qaeda and other extremist movements, and the growing depth of its sectarian and ethnic divisions, is the fault of its political leaders, not outside states or a lack of Iraqi nationalism and inherent forces within Iraqi society,” stated a report released Monday by Anthony Cordesman and Sam Khazai, who are analysts with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Recall that the “defeat” of Al Qaeda in Iraq toward the end of the American war was credited in part, even by the military leaders behind the U.S. surge , on the “Anbar Awakening,” when Sunni Muslims in Iraq began to resist Al Qaeda’s influence in an organized fashion. Al-Maliki’s work on antagonizing Sunnis in Iraq began immediately after the withdrawal of U.S. troops; his government issued an arrest warrant against Iraq’s Sunni vice president just a day later, eventually sentencing him to death in abstentia. Were U.S. troops to re-enter Iraq, their mission would not be in support of expelling Al Qaeda from the country, but in helping a developing strongman consolidate his power.